The words of things entangle and confuse …

I was in a meeting during the week where publishing was being discussed. After a while it became clear that we would have to qualify what we meant by publishing for it to be a usable word in the conversation: people had different views of what was and was not publishing in our changing context.
In digital library conversations, we continually have to qualify the words we mean to avoid confusion. Think of archive which is now used in a variety of related but different senses, or of repository. Similarly, we may have to qualify content management or asset management in some conversations. And that is before thinking at all of what a learning object is, or a portal.
Service is used in a specialized sense (a machine accessible piece of functionality on the network) and a general sense. We fall back on a word like content as format lines become blurred.
This unformed vocabulary is symptomatic of ongoing change …

2 thoughts on “The words of things entangle and confuse …”

  1. Very much so.

    When I meet people who work with digital libraries, and the topic moves to portals, the issue of the difference between a “portal” and a “gateway” invariably arises. Despite there being several articles that (though differently) define these concepts, the sheer range and diversity of online services labelled as “portals” or “gateways” seems to inevitably cause blurring.

    It does seem that, to a large extent, whether a service is a gateway or a portal is defined by:
    – the country in which it was developed
    – the organisation that funded it
    …as opposed to the actual functionality, content or target demographic.

    Best not even introduce the word “hub” in this context… 😉

  2. I agree with you comments and also believe that changes in speech are a natural part of our evolution towards a global community. As a consultant, I welcome the overlap of speech as it reminds us that to communicate, we must all check our assumptions. Effective communication requires us to review our language, take time (in a world where decisions and communication are now done in a split second) to think of the meaning of the other persons words as well as the meaning of our own. This is a reminder to slow down, to listen and to take the time to be clearly understood, as well as to clearly understand.

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